Unrealised economic opportunities in remote Indigenous communities: Case studies from northern Australia

Kamaljit Sangha, Adele Duvert, Ricky Archer, Jeremy Russell-Smith

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Building on unique Indigenous advantages for people living in remote areas, this study offers insights for innovative land-based economic opportunities across northern Australia. These advantages—outside the mainstream economics—include peoples’ abilities to manage land and knowledge of ecosystems, culture, traditions/ceremonies which directly contribute towards peoples’ health, social relations, provisioning of a safe and secure environment, and learning constituents of well-being. To demonstrate, two representative remote communities, Maningrida and Borroloola in the Northern Territory, are used for revealing uncaptured, but valid, opportunities which, if realized, could help enhance Indigenous well-being—a much-needed agenda for the Australian Government. Moreover, innovative land-based opportunities will potentially save ~$49 million/yr of government’s welfare costs. This study offers a detailed analysis of the existing socio-economic situation of the selected communities, outlines potential land-based economic opportunities, and advocates for a shift in policy planning from viewing remote communities as a problem to realising advantages of their unique prospects to develop the north. Applying an integrated approach to Indigenous development for supporting new economies can lead to diversification of north’s land sector which to date has been predominantly used for beef production causing threats to fragile ecosystems and hence their services to people living in the area.
Original languageEnglish
Article number100093
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalSocial Sciences & Humanities Open
Issue number1
Early online dateDec 2020
Publication statusPublished - 2020


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